Great | Differentiating Features
Awesome controllers. Comfortable headset. High FOV (field of view). Excellent audio.
Good | Most Have It
Other headsets have higher image quality. Limited experiences have finger tracking
Average | Competitors May Be Better
Expensive. External trackers. High spec requirement.
If you’re willing to spend over $1,000 on a virtual reality setup, there are a few enticing options, but we must recommend the highest-profile, high-end option in the VR gaming space: the Valve Index. This is the go-to choice for VR enthusiasts. It features two 1440×1600 LCD screens with a refresh rate that goes from 80Hz to 144Hz.
While the external tracking sensors aren’t as convenient as built-in headset cameras providing inside-out tracking, they are effective, especially in combination with the Valve Index’s controllers. Known by many as the “knuckles” controllers, they feature 87 sensors to track the user’s hand and finger positions, to create one of the most accurate and immersive virtual reality experiences yet.
Many note the Index’s wide field of view, of about 120 to 130 degrees, which is also made possible with a dial on the side of the headset to bring the lenses closer to your eyes. The headset is pretty comfortable, with plenty of adjustments and padding, while the headphones are frequently referenced as being a benchmark in providing 3D sound.
Because this is a Valve product, it works seamlessly with SteamVR and that ecosystem, which can even incorporate additional accessories and peripherals, for further immersion into the world of virtual reality. More high-end options are on the way, including the newly released HTC Vive Pro 2, which brings a good mix of features to the table (for more money), but for most gamers looking at a premium VR experience, the Index remains the top headset overall.
If you’re spending this much on a VR headset, make sure your PC is up to snuff. Valve recommends a GTX 1070 or better, and a quad-core CPU. The GPU portion is going to be most important for VR gaming, so something in the ballpark of an RTX 2070 / RTX 3060 / Radeon 5700 XT or faster, is ideal.